Thursday, March 31, 2011

ASIA: BANGLADESH: 14-YEAR OLD RAPED AND LASHED TO DEATH

CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: 14-year-old girl lashed 70 times in front of parents

In a horrific case of rural justice, a 14-year-old girl was lashed 70 times in front of her parents on alleged adultery charges. She cried out to her mother proclaiming her innocence, and her death a week later was judged a suicide by a local hospital.

In a horrific case of rural justice, a 14-year-old girl was lashed 70 times in front of her parents on alleged adultery charges. She cried out to her mother proclaiming her innocence, and her death a week later was judged a suicide by a local hospital.

In a horrific case of rural justice, a 14-year-old girl was lashed 70 times in front of her parents on alleged adultery charges. She cried out to her mother proclaiming her innocence, and her death a week later was judged a suicide by a local hospital.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hena Akhter was the youngest child of Darbesh Khan and his wife, Aklima Begum. The 14-year-old Akhter lived with her parents and four other siblings in Bangladesh's Shariatpur district. Crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields, she lived with her family in a house constructed of corrugated tin and rotting wood.

Hena's cousin, Mahbub Khan had returned to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena's age, and the two were in seventh grade together.

Khan reportedly eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena's father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, who was three times Hena's age.

The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena's family. According to her sister, many months later, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.

Hena struggled to escape and Mahbub Khan's wife heard Hena's muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.

The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan's house. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia, or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.

Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes. Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum had no choice but to mind the imam's order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.

An initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide.

"What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn't save her life," Sultana Kamal, who heads the rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro says.

Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. Activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems.

http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=40871

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